Planet Ark News - Solar Installations Highest on Record as Australians Insulate Themselves Against Surging Power Prices
Planet Ark News

Solar Installations Highest on Record as Australians Insulate Themselves Against Surging Power Prices

Date: 12-May-17
Author: Elise Catterall

Solar Panels © Claire Bell

Gas and electricity prices in Australia are set to increase by 10 percent or more in 2017, leading individuals and businesses Australia-wide to turn to solar power to generate their own electricity.

Australia, with its ample sunshine, has the perfect climate for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems as a means of generating electricity and can make the enviable claim that over one quarter of households have solar PV panels on their roofs – a number higher than anywhere else in the world.

This impressive figure is set to rise even further, according to a recent analysis released by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (API). With an already record number of installations in the March quarter of 2017, the Institute’s data indicate that by 2020 there could double the contribution from solar power to Australia’s total power generation.

The analysis found that Australia already has a total solar power capacity of 6GW – enough to power all of Melbourne – and this total is estimated to surpass 7GW this year. 7GW would be enough energy to power a city the size of Sydney.

Solar PV technology, which uses the energy of the sun to generate electricity cleanly and efficiently, is a component of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, according to the Department of the Environments’ Plan for Cleaner Energy. This target is in place to ensure that by 2020 23.5% of electricity in Australia is from renewable sources.

The surge in installations – increases which have ranged from 10% in the Australian Capital Territory, to over 70% in Western Australia – is being attributed to several factors.

The primary catalyst is believed to be the increase in power prices, both electricity and gas, Australia-wide. Since 2005 and 2010, in Sydney alone, electricity prices increased by 61%. In 2017, power prices on the whole are estimated to surge by another 10% to 30%, depending on region – a price rise which is unprecedented. Due to this, many Australians have turned to solar energy to both reduce their current power bills and protect against the expected price surge.

Other factors in the increased uptake of solar panels include greater affordability of panels due to the surplus of production in China, improvements in panel technology, the recent incidents of grid blackouts, notably in South Australia, the suitability of Australia – and its predominantly stand-alone dwellings - for solar panels, and the desire by many to reduce their carbon footprint.

For the same reasons, adopting solar systems makes good sense for businesses as well. Currently commercial uptake is around 12 percent of total capacity, but, according to Dr Egan of the API who was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, this is a sector where there is still huge potential for growth.

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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

Elise                                             Catterall

Author: Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.
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